Vita Vea, at 347 pounds, projects as an immediate help to the run defense, which ranked 23rd last season.
The Buccaneers have a potential quality run-stopper to complement Gerald McCoy in the middle. We’ll find out if Vea has upside as a pass-rusher, but his ability to latch on to ball-carriers should ease the linebackers jobs.
Don’t expect Payne to accumulate sacks. He’s an interior defender who’s strong enough to hold up at the point of attack with the technical ability to shed blocks and record stops. The Alabama product isn’t the cure-all acquisition for the run defense, but Washington won’t finish last in the category for the upcoming season.
When the front office trades first- and fifth-round selections, along with next year’s first-round pick, for a defensive end at No. 14, he better start Week 1. Don’t worry, New Orleans Saints fans, there’s room for Marcus Davenport to learn on the fly.
Alexander, who’s the more athletic of the two rookie cornerbacks, will take over a starting position with snaps on the boundary and in the slot.
During the offseason, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett started to discuss the possibility of utilizing Jaylon Smith as a strong-side linebacker, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill:
The SAM in our defense is an important spot but there is so much nickel defense being played in the NFL. Often times you only have two linebackers out on the field, so you want to give him more than just that role. He might be a SAM in base but you want to make sure he has a role when we’re playing our two linebackers defense as well.
Whether Smith shifts over to the strong side or not, there’s one certainty: The Cowboys starting linebacker unit will undergo some changes. Anthony Hitchens signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, which opens another spot.